Monday, October 3, 2016

Travel day out of Town

October 2-3, 2016

I went to bed 2 hours earlier than last night but woke up an hour earlier, netting one more hour of sleep.  Still not good.  Elder Oliphant and driver picked us up at 8:30 to look at an older project and check out a possible new one that Rakesh wants to do.  The older project is also his.  When we looked at the car we were rather disappointed.  It was quite a nice car, but it was not a van.  E/S Weaver had to go to the same area for another reason, so there were 3 couples plus the driver in the car.  Oliphant’s took the rear seat in the far back but they had more room than the rest of us.  Jim rode shotgun so he had the best seat but still complained how sore his bottom was on the long trip.  E/S Weaver and I were in the back seat and there was no knee room and it was not a wide car so we were squished. Despite the claustrophobic conditions, it didn’t seem too bad, perhaps because we talked a lot and my attention was diverted from our squashed quarters.

Some things have not changed since we were last here—it still takes about 2 hours to get out of Kathmandu no matter which direction you are headed.  Once we finally hit the highway we thought things would speed up considerably, which it did at times, but the further we went the worse the conditions got.  It was supposed to take us 6 hours but it took 9.  Not only had the roads been destroyed by the monsoons and rock sides, but the government has been trying to repave the roads.  One would think that they would take a section of road and finish it and then move on to another section.  No, they removed the pavement for miles and miles making it very slow going.  These conditions won’t improve for many years and it is the main road to and from India.  It used to be a decent paved road with very few bad spots, but now you have to creep along slowly so as not to kill your car and passengers.  This added a couple of hours to an already long trip. 

Oliphant’s left, Weaver’s right, at the lunch stop along the road on our long drive out of town.

We stopped for lunch and used the same restaurant as we had in past years.  It is below the road and the river is visible from the eating area.  The wide river is the one you see no matter which road you take out of town, and all the roads are the same--all 2-lane roads that wind around the mountains and go up and down and you always see that someone has gone over the side.  Yep, we saw that someone had gone over the edge.

As a sidelight, one successful and very popular politician here was in the way of the corrupt government so they decided to kill him by running him off the road.  The driver was paid to drive the car over the cliff and jump out just before it went over.  He also might have had others in the car with him that were part of this politician’s group.  Later the driver got a brand new house as payment.  However, he just happened to have a home invasion and they killed him to keep him quiet.  Now, this is unfortunately typical of 3rd world countries—the more corrupt, the more the people suffer and it keeps the main populous poor.  There will be a lot to account for in the hereafter…

It is very pretty this time of year when you leave town and see the countryside.  Since I took this on the fly, it is not all that clear, but you can see the beauty of the rice fields and terrain.

Our plan had been to meet Rakesh and check out the older project, and then check on the new proposal the following morning, but we didn’t have time that evening.  Not only did the roads slow us down, but so did our driver.  Once we got to town he had the wrong idea of where the hotel was and headed off in another direction.  This added almost another hour onto our trip.  We didn’t arrive till 5:30.  We checked into our room, which is very nice except for a hard bed, and decided to meet for dinner at 6:00.  I ordered Buffalo wings and asked them not to put the spice on it.  They did anyway.  My mouth was burning and the gal was upset and yelled at the cook and offered to give me some without—I decided it would just take time so I scraped off the hot but of course got a hot mouth anyway.  She brought me ice cream for free, one tiny scoop, which helped.  We all got more ice cream. 

The hotel is one we stayed at before. The pool water was so warm, but it was too late and we were too tired to use it! It also started raining hard and the lightening would discourage any brave soul from taking a dip.  Instead we showered and went to bed early.  I need some serious sleep.  So I got in the shower and was enjoying a huge spray and it felt so good…and then I saw my slippers floating across the bathroom floor—why wasn’t it draining?  They had a large cap over the drain and so I took it off.  It drained.  My slippers are very soggy.
Monday: We ate our included breakfast at 7:00 and met Rakesh at 7:30.  Weaver’s were elsewhere working on something they had to do.  This morning was the easiest part of our day.  We checked out the old project that had been completed a while ago and is working just fine.  We then drove to meet the committee that wants a water project: redevelop the spring, build a new tank to store more water, and then bring lines to their doors (the people will pay to have a meter placed on or next to their property).  The only hard part of this day was that they had us come into a room to talk about it with many men and a few women participating.  The problem was that we had to sit on pads on the floor.  I don’t do floor sitting without great discomfort.  I twisted and fidgeted constantly, and eventually it was over.  They had doused us with the red Tika and given us leis and scarves and gave us bottled water.  Rakesh translated back and forth between us.  What they want is typical for Nepal, but their proposal on paper did not seem to match—the prices were rather huge, so that will be worked on; if they get them down to something normal, we might do the project.  Rakesh has always done a good job with his projects—they are timely and well-constructed and sustainable.

Oliphant’s and Greding’s getting the Tika treatment plus leis and scarves as we walked into the meeting room—we also have to take off our shoes.

We arrived back at the hotel and checked out and were on the road by noon to take the arduous trip back to Kathmandu.  I figured this trip would take 8 hours, but I was hoping for less.  It took 7, but it was hard to sit that long.  We had one lunch break and one bathroom break.  It also gets a bit nerve-wracking with all the cars and trucks and buses passing each other on the curve.  It was stop and go but mostly stop just as we were climbing the last hill to town, and then the traffic was no better in town.  It was dark by the time we got there and it also had started to rain.  It was one of those times when we were so very grateful to be back ‘home.’  My feet were as swollen as if I’d been on a plane.  Speaking of planes, we found out that Rakesh doesn’t drive this road—he takes a plane…

We had to sit on the floor while they gabbed and gabbed about the proposed water project.  I was in pain.  I don’t do floor-sitting.

Interesting tidbit: not all Nepalese men dye their hair when they turn gray, but the majority do.  Almost all women dye their hair, so when they see an American couple with gray hair, they think it is a little strange.  The children pull at it to see if it is real or a wig.  The women often favor a slightly red/orange color so you get this reddish tinge where gray hair might be, or sometimes just for fun they put streaks of it in their hair. 

This is a banana tree.  I never noticed the blossoms.  You can see the green bananas above it.

You can see the river while eating in the outdoor restaurant.  We saw several groups of people white-water rafting.                                 

We’re so happy to be off of that road and back in our hotel room, but we have to do it again in a couple of days!  Tomorrow is an easy day—we go to a meeting at 8 AM and then have the afternoon off! 

Loving it at the Shambala!  My bed is calling me…

Mom & Dad, Jim & Karen, E/S Greding

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